Rhetoric Division

Chair: Matthew A. Parfitt

Rhetoric Courses

CGS RH 101: English Composition: Argument and Critical Thinking
Begins with critical reading, writing, and thinking strategies. Students learn the convention of the expository essay and how to meet its demands by developing a thesis, organizing an argument, and supporting claims with reasoning and evidence. Students also receive instruction in grammar, style, and document design. Through class discussion and by working on assignments, students explore connections between readings assigned in Rhetoric and their readings in other courses. (4 credits)

CGS RH 102: English Composition and Research
Focuses on research while further developing students’ expository writing skills. Students learn how to use electronic and traditional research tools, how to select and weigh evidence and integrate sources into an argument, and how to use standard scholarly conventions to document their research. (4 credits)

CGS RH 103: Changing Times, Changing Minds: Revolutions in the Ancient World through the Enlightenment

Offers instruction in writing, critical reading and research. Focuses on four themes taken from the four units that comprise the semester’s curriculum (“The Birth of ‘God’: The Advent of Monotheism”; “The Development of Democracy and the Democratic Self”; “Rediscovering Nature and the Self: The Renaissance”; and “Reason to Revolution: The Enlightenment”). Readings and discussions relate these themes to current issues and problems in order to explore how the past has shaped the world of today.  Three papers invite students to research and write about these relationships. Shorter informal writing assignments allow students to integrate the texts and lectures across the curriculum with learning experiences outside the classroom. The course makes extensive use of the university library and online resources to teach research skills. Finally, students learn core academic writing skills, including argumentation and the evaluation, integration, and documentation of sources. Open only to students admitted to the CGS January Program. (4 credits)

CGS RH 104: Changing Times, Changing Minds: The Industrial Revolution through the Digital Revolution

Through class discussion and learning experiences, students explore connections between readings assigned in Rhetoric and those in other courses, focusing on themes drawn from the two units that comprise the semester’s curriculum (“The Century of Change: The Long 19th Century Yields 20th Century Breaks with the Past” and “The Post-World War Maelstrom: The Escalation of Change”). The course further develops skills in expository writing and introduces exploratory essay writing. Students continue to explore the contemporary relevance and meaning of the interdisciplinary curriculum. Students refine their skills in grammar, style, organization, and document design. Open only to students admitted to the CGS January Program. (4 credits)

Rhetoric at the College of General Studies

The College is committed to the art of writing as an instrument of learning and evaluation in all aspects of its curriculum. It therefore offers first-year students instruction in rhetoric to develop their abilities as writers and thinkers in the context of the demands placed on them as college students.

To fulfill this responsibility, rhetoric faculty members work closely throughout the year with team colleagues in other disciplines, sharing material and assigning joint writing projects. The rhetoric courses show students how the process of writing is itself a mode of thinking deeply and clearly about any subject. Faculty instruct students in a variety of widely applicable strategies for generating ideas, drafting, and revising, with attention to both grammatical correctness and stylistic refinement. Students learn to synthesize ideas from their reading and to develop an effective thesis; they learn modes of organization and argumentation; and finally, they learn methods of library research and proper documentation.

In addition to these specific objectives, the rhetoric faculty attempt to inculcate in their students a sensitivity to the power of language and an ability to assess arguments and evaluate opinions.

Classes of approximately 15 students meet twice each week; in the first semester there is an additional class meeting focusing on oral argumentation. Students write constantly and copiously in class as well as out and develop their ideas for the formal papers through a writing process that includes class discussion, prewriting exercises, draft revision, and conferences with the instructor.